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The other Archbishop to pray for

Earlier this week, Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury issued a ‘reflection’ on the events that took place at ECUSA’s General Convention the week previous. I sat down and read it the other night and have to say that, yet again, Rowan has significantly impressed me.

Ruth Gledhill’s blog carries interesting and supportive coverage which I think is well worth reading amongst all the coverage that both Rowan’s statement and the preceding General Convention has garnered.

If you want to keep track of every single last bit of reaction to General Convention and the Archbishop’s statement, visit the Thinking Anglicans website which is doing a sterling piece of work in trying to keep track of it all. To be honest though, for me the extent of reactions is both mind-blowing and impenetrable now.

I can’t follow what New Zealand or whatever other province think of ECUSA, what this group or that group think, let alone the continued daily devastation to be found in America itself as one diocese after another looks for alternative episcopal oversight, finds ministers in the Washington DC area being ordained as missionary Bishops by the Nigerians and who knows what else.

What I can follow is the call that Archbishop Rowan has set before us. With his usual ridiculously super-charged intellect to the fore, he asks all involved to focus on what it means to be Anglican, to hold in tension the long established idea of scripture, tradition and reason and, again, to sacrifice, to love and to listen to each other.

Both sides, at their most extreme, should feel castigated as he sharply criticizes both for much of the rhetoric and behaviour that have characterized these most recent debates.

I haven’t yet been able to catch up with my friends in ECUSA and I hope to blog more when I get more from them as the “horse’s mouth”. They are more on the liberal end of things and I know they aren’t too impressed with Rowan’s statement but that is no surprise to me since they come in for a critique (in my opinion deserved).

Reading so much of the stuff that is now circulating discourages me. The church I love seems intent on damaging itself. The wider world has nothing but scorn for us for behaving so poorly towards each other and so misunderstands the basis of the disagreement as to significantly damage our witness and mission.

When I finished reading Rowan’s reflection, I felt encouraged that we have an Archbishop so gifted, so intelligent, so able and I felt compelled to pray for him. I’d encourage anyone reading this to do the same.



I must disagree – he has pandered to the south to such an extreme, that the south has found itself empowered to begin creating their own, separate communion. Instead of showing strength, and standing up to bigotry, he has appeased the Anglican Communion into schism, converting a small problem of disciplining and guiding a few bigots within the communion into a much more severe conflict. I believe that strength of voice and conscience might still be able to win the day, but it has become clear that we aren’t going to have anything of the sort from Rowan.


Sorry to hear that you think that TWS but I’m not surprised you think that either. I can see how you might find it hard to listen to what Rowan is saying at present since it isn’t what you want to hear. However, I maintain what I said earlier – he has shown considerable restraint, intellect, pastoral concern and leadership throughout and continues to do so in his statement.

I can’t see how you feel that his statement panders to the global south. Both sides come in for sharp criticism and instead of taking sides, he encourages all to gather around what it means to be Anglican and to commit to each other in that spirit.

For myself, it is probably unsurprising to you that my background is more towards the conservative end of the church. If I was to guess, I would suspect you come from the more liberal end. That’s all fine. I have enjoyed speaking with friends from ECUSA, including some who are in homosexual partnerships themselves, and learning from them – wrestling with the theology and missiology and ecclesiology that such conversations provoke.

As I’ve blogged before here, I find myself a cuckoo in the conservative nest – unhappy with much of the rhetoric and the unwillingness to both listen and think. Similarly I find myself a cuckoo in the liberal nest, unhappy with the dismissive attitude to anyone who disagrees with them considering them unenlightened, bigoted (a word I notice you use) or worse. No-one, in that sense, is beyond criticism in what has happened thus far.

For me, I’ll keep listening and trying to learn from those like yourselves who don’t come from the same theological background as me. I’ve already revised my opinions a lot on the basis of those conversations with friends in ECUSA. I’ll keep praying for our leaders, as I believe we are all called to do.

I think it is possible for us all to stay in communion. I don’t think it will be easy… I think it will be a place of cost and sacrifice from start till kingdom come… but maybe just maybe we’d all be more Christ like as a result.


I guess you haven’t dug very deeply into my blog – and that you would be suprised to hear that I think of myself very much as a conservative – It’s just that I track my conservativism back to what I think are the foundations of the Anglican church – a church that believes that we all should be able to pray together – and only asked that we use the same words. (see here)

But today, the words ‘orthodox’ and ‘tradition’ in the Anglican communion, and in the Episcopal church have been subverted into meaning something very much other than the ‘traditional Anglican approach’ – now it means something new; it means purity laws. And although Puritanism grew out of Anglicanism, it was not considered the mainstream of Anglicanism, then, or now.

As for my use of the word bigotry, I think it is very well justified. We should be honest, and call things what they are. If a corporation in the US or UK tried to set up a special division with only gay superiors (or only male superiors) for those who did not like gays (or women) so that they would not have to report up to a gay person (or a woman), it would be sued for discrimination, -and without question it would lose the case. It would be no problem to prove that they had committed bigotry in a court of law, and had held back people based upon their orientation or gender. Yet this is just what has been proposed for our churches – that certain people be held back based upon their gender or orientation, and beyond that that special corporate structures be set up to help preserve and protect this descrimination within the church, and those who believe in it. So a well-chosen, well-justified word, used to describe an activity that is illegal for most corporates.

Discrimination is a crime, and a sin. And our church today stands guilty of several flavors of it. – And Rowan does us all a disservice for pandering to it. I hope someday soon we can finish curing the church of this ill.



Thanks for responding TWS… I have done you wrong and apologise for misjudging, for not digging too deeply into your own blog and for any offence caused. None was meant – genuinely enjoying the to and fro.

With moving, babies, college on the horizon and leaving my current employ, time to blog is at a premium right now but I promise wholeheartedly to catch up later when life settles down a bit.

I very much resonate with your view of church as somewhere where we can all pray together, and if I may read into what you are saying – regardless of where we sit theologically on certain issues.

I hear what you are saying on the use of the word bigotry and again, there is much that resonates with me. However, without wishing to be diverted, there is something in the back of my head about applying our current culture back into church life and the dangers of that.

I say all this as someone wrestling with the issues – very much seeing both sides of the debate at present – but there is a sense that we do not answer to each other (as does the corporate business) but to God. We march to a different rhythm.

If homosexual (assuming long-term, faithful) relationships are okay and those engaged in them are not doing something that should prevent them from serving in a position of church leadership, it should be justifiable theologically on more than just whether it looks like a case of employment discrimination in the eyes of a secular court of law.

There’s no need to repeat that theological case here, I know it well and am engaging with it – wrestling with it… I guess I’m just saying that I don’t think that particular argument is a particularly strong one for where we are and what we are trying to do. There has to be more to our case than that.

I actually think much of the current trouble is far less about homosexuality than it is about one province of the Anglican Communion breaking ‘the rules’ that the others had signed up to at Lambeth in 98 but I’m probably opening up more than we can adequately talk about here… perhaps another blog article when the time allows.

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